FutureFlow project focusing on consumers as guardians of power systems

The European FutureFlow project from the Horizon 2020 programme is now fully engaged and is progressing at full speed. It is being coordinated by ELES, and includes the EIMV institute, Elektro energija and GEN-I from Slovenia. The project is already one-third of the way through. Twelve project partners from eight different countries are dealing with the challenges of a modern power system where consumers, equipped with state-of-the-art devices, are no longer just ordinary consumers, but can also produce electricity. Their potential is to become active players in power system security. Like guardians of the power system, contributing to the most challenging of all TSOs’ balancing services.

The analysis clearly shows the low level of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) in the balancing markets, which is due to the uncertain nature of these sources, in combination with the rather complex technicalities of balancing services. On the other hand, based on a field survey, case studies and theoretical analysis, DR & DG flexibility has been identified in a wide range of devices and processes in the industry, tertiary and household sectors. In Austria, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia, 318 MW of DR & DG potential for flexibility services has been identified. With the goal of enabling higher integration of DR & DG in balancing markets and of facilitating the functioning of these markets, the project partners have designed two platforms:

  • Prototype platform for the aggregation of distributed generation and demand response: By means of a prototype aggregation solution and renewable generation forecasting techniques, flexibility providers – distributed generators (DG) and commercial and industrial (C&I) consumers providing demand response (DR) – will be able to provide products for balancing services. Retailers will act as flexibility aggregators and will pool resources in order to provide the products required by the TSO.
  • Prototype of the regional balancing and redispatching platform: The main component of the prototype platform is the Common Activation Function (CAF), which is tailored to deal with congested borders and optimized for overcoming critical intra-regional barriers. The CAF is implemented as a cloud solution of a prototype Regional Balancing and Redispatching Platform, which makes research activities concerning cross-border integration flexible while linking with the aggregation solution.

In FutureFlow various DG & DR technologies will be tested in real-time field pilot tests. This means that based on the needs of the Austrian, Hungarian, Romanian and Slovenian power systems, participating DR & DG sources will be receiving control signal every two seconds and should adjust their output power accordingly, consequently contributing to the balance of the power systems. However, for TSOs, ensuring system stability and integrity is of the highest importance. Therefore, in order to carry out realistic real-time tests, without interfering with the live operational Load Frequency Control (LFC) systems of the participating TSOs, FutureFlow partners designed an advanced pilot test environment. The test environment hosts parallel TSOs’ environments, realistically interacting with the regional balancing platform and therefore enabling as many realistic tests of the prototype as possible, including the very important cyber security aspect.

It should be emphasised that DR & DG providers expect not only to participate in the pilot tests that shall be carried out in 2018, but also to be included in the subsequent “real world” balancing services. Ultimately their participation will depend on the technical capability of their units in providing these flexible services, and on financial incentive, which may involve some risk due to generally low electricity prices.